Frank Brown sat up in his bed at 4:15am. He touched the other side, expecting to have his wife offer her cheek for a kiss. He felt only the flannel sheets. Frank recalled a strange dream where his son called and said his wife was killed. But it wasn’t a dream… Frank settled into his slippers and grabbed his robe. In the small kitchen of his small ranch, Frank turned the percolator on. The night before, he prepared the filter and his usual Folgers. Since his wife had been set up in the nursing home, he had no need for the fancy coffee she loved. He barely had time to enjoy it on his shift.
After a brief shower, Frank changed into his favorite suit. The brown tweed jacket was as familiar as his Model 10 revolver. The last things Frank picked up were his wallet and detective badge. He ran his finger over the badge’s number – 121. Fishbanks had a small police department of 15 officers. The dispatch center operated out of the county office.
Frank’s home phone rang. He checked his watch. Not late. He picked up the phone.
“Frank, you best come in early. We have something to show you,” Sherry the administrator said.
“Is this about a case we already have?” Frank asked.
“No. It’s a new one. Best you come in to talk about it.”
Frank felt a creeping sensation. He heard his son’s voice again. Dad, I just watched mom’s throat get slit. The screen door slammed shut on Frank’s way out. He jumped in his Ford truck. Despite what everyone said, Frank liked Fords. It was a five-minute drive. The police department was abuzz this morning. As Frank strolled in, people began avoiding eye contact. The shift leader put his face down. An intern pretended to check his phone messages. The Chief called him into his office.
“Frank, I got some unfortunate news for ya,” Chief Dobbin said. He was the only black man in the police department and one of four black people in the town, “Frank. Your son was found with his throat cut downtown.”
Frank expected the news to hit close, maybe his wife had a minor stroke. But his son’s death was hard. “Do you have a suspect yet?” Frank asked.
“Not yet. When did you last hear from him?”
“Last week- No, wait. He called last night. He seemed pretty frightened, saying that my wife was killed in front of him.”
“Did that concern you at all?” Chief Dobbin leaned in.
“A little, but he said it had been snowing and maybe he was seeing things. Boy’s been working a lot lately.”
“That’s the thing,” Chief Dobbin said, “It didn’t snow last night, Frank.”